Nicola Keith: How corporate partnerships can promote cohesion in larger, disparate organisations

Employees who share a mutual-gains relationship with their employers tend to deliver improved business performance. Nicola Keith, Head of Partnership Management at Macmillan Cancer Support talks about how connection to a social purpose is one of the easiest and most rewarding ways for businesses to do this.

It’s no surprise that employer’s value engaged employees, not only are they happier, healthier and more fulfilled than ‘disengaged’ employees, but they are more likely to increase customer satisfaction levels, productivity and innovation.

However for organisations with multiple locations and brands, and with a growing number of employees now working remotely due to advances in technology, it stands to reason that for many it’s now harder to gain that community feel that was once so synonymous with the work place. Companies are seeking out ways to keep colleagues from different departments or geographical areas interacting and engaging, to bolster that sense of team cohesion.

“It’s now harder to gain that community feel that was once so synonymous with the work place.”

For businesses, working with charities are a great way to unite and motivate staff whilst making a positive impact on society and cementing brand values. A central cause can be especially useful to companies during a period of change or uncertainty to generate positive employee engagement. I believe in the mutual benefits of the right charity corporate partnership, and at Macmillan, have seen first-hand the ways they can unite entire companies, motivating inter-team communications and galvanising staff at times when there has perhaps been uncertainty or change.

One of our partners who have found having a charity partner has been worth its weight in community spirit, is Greene King. The relationship between Greene King and Macmillan Cancer support started in 2012 and was the pub company and brewer’s first corporate charity. One thing which has come from our work with Greene King is how a partnership can really assist with companies who have a diverse number of brands and locations.

After a successful four years together, we re-launched our partnership in 2016, this time bringing on board its newly acquired Spirit Pub Company brands and team members – taking the total number of staff to 44,000 spread across 1,800 managed pubs up and down the country.

Within the Greene King business, the challenge is always to identify and deliver corporate fundraising ideas which will appeal to every part of a business, as well as ensuring Macmillan support individual brands by having an understanding of how they operate internally. Since the start of the partnership, over £2.5million has been raised thanks to supportive and generous team members and guests, which is a testament to how much the company as a collective have united together to get behind the partnership.

“Since the start of the partnership, over £2.5million has been raised thanks to supportive and generous team members and guests.”

Similarly, PizzaExpress have also felt the collective force of having a charity partnership, describing it as ‘really galvanising enthusiasm’. Since the launch of the partnership many staff have come together in teams which has created a healthy sense of competition between restaurants. Some have even been setting individual fundraising targets in an attempt to ‘outdo’ each other.

There are many benefits to partnering with a charity, particularly one that has a cause that really resonates throughout the workforce – from employee engagement through to customer fundraising, increased commercial awareness, cementing brand values or volunteering — but creating that community feel amongst a perhaps more disparate group, can create a sense of positivity and motivation that’s worth its weight in gold.

Nicola Keith can be found tweeting at @Nixgotsoul